8 Marketing Hacks for the Digital Age

Hello, August! It’s already the eighth month of the year and you may be lacking inspiration for that product launch, brand concept, or tagline. The tools are at your disposal, yet your ideas are stuck in limbo. Luckily, we’ve prepared a refresher on marketing and e-commerce techniques, courtesy of YouthHack Manila 2015. Here are eight tips from the esteemed Raymond Castillo of Uber and Mark Panganiban of Shopinas:


1) Breathe first, brainstorm second.

Don’t stress yourself out trying to think of completely new concepts from the get-go —t he greatest ideas simply introduce a twist to existing ones. Castillo emphasizes execution rather than novelty as the driving factor behind start-up growth. Uber, for instance, acted on the ride-sharing concept that had been around for decades. Then there’s Google, which entered an industry already packed with rival search engines.

“The first mover advantage is a myth,” he explains. “The willingness to question the current state of affairs is what matters over creativity.”

2) . . . But start moving after you do.

Marketing is a hustling job, so success in the start-up world boils down to how you mobilize resources and connections. According to Castillo, the goal of marketing is to tell stories that drive action, that strike at the heart of consumer needs immediately. Thus, you need to make some plans: Who is your target market? Through which platforms can I best reach them? What resources can I use to do so?

3) Embrace your targets.

Aiming high means aiming at people, not robots or objects, so your task involves empathy. Marketing utilizes the why of a product and makes that purpose resonate with individuals. Moreover, Castillo advises young entrepreneurs to focus on a niche market. A clearer picture of your customers, he says, will allow you to dig into their dreams and desires, question what gap your idea will fill in their lives, and build your brand image around that.

4) Back up your plans with information.

Startup work requires you to know your customers not just by an inkling of their feelings, but by concrete analytics. Castillo looks to the numbers for feedback on his marketing strategies—and encourages you to do so, too. Survey people. Ask around. Take note of which advertisements attract or aggravate them. You can only defy the status quo by defining what the conventions are at the moment.

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5) Know how and where to place yourself.

At the very core of e-commerce lies a crucial understanding of the customer psyche, as Panganiban points out. Therefore, awareness of their expectations, interests, and spending habits becomes essential to strategically putting yourself and your start-up in a prime position. Getting ahead in the entrepreneurial world requires that your business be on the forefront of want-based innovation. That is, if you get down to the psychological fundamentals of the trade, you’ll have a greater chance of sustaining customers’ interest in your brand.

6) Actively seek out potential users.

Panganiban stresses that the best entrepreneurs are those that take the initiative to meet their targets where they are—whether on Instagram or any other online social media platform. Immerse yourself in the social landscape many individuals call home, and take every opportunity to engage with prospective customers. Focus on bolstering your brand’s appeal by showing them that your business won’t just be about your profit, but ultimately, also their benefit.

7) Reconcile information with intent.

As a budding entrepreneur, you must always be one step ahead in terms of understanding the current situation of the local business arena. Panganiban mentions that consumer and business trends fluctuate on an almost daily basis, and the same applies to the Philippine e-commerce landscape. Here, both hard data and qualitative information come into play. The key to using these to your advantage lies in constructing a start-up practice that reflects both research and relevance.                             

8) Capitalize on trust.

Given society’s growing appetite for convenience, the appeal of online transactions and other automated processes has skyrocketed in the last few years. But people don’t just want expedient service; they want safety, something Panganiban himself admits. Beyond selling tangible products or services, market security. The only real way to boost value is to show customers that their information and personal welfare are safe in your hands — and that’s what the startup culture is all about.

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If after reading through all these tips you still find yourself wondering why you should pursue a start-up, remember that all great business start out the same way. Even the most prestigious and established corporate megaliths began with nothing more than an an idea and an idealist, not much different from start-ups nowadays. So sit down, reflect, and try to make sense of the invaluable advice these YouthHack MNL 2015 speakers have shared.


by Czarina Lokin and Annicka Koteh


 Thank you to our guest bloggers for the perfect way to greet August – reflection, ideation, and getting ready to conquer the academic year. Want to know more about the YH Startup Challenge 2015? Catch the rest of our coverage here.

2 A number of YouthHack community members have read and recommended this for you.

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